Vox is publishing this piece because “in order for the sport to survive,” ice skating has to change from its 18th-century roots in privilege.

Rebecca Jennings writes:

The prognosis for fixing American figure skating is bleak: In order to be competitive with the Russians, who have dominated the sport by building elite state-sponsored academies to churn out Olympic contenders, the US would have to dramatically alter the way it approaches both figure skating and youth sports in general, so that children beyond the most privileged could have a real shot.

Figure skating has more or less always been this way. “The skating that turned into figure skating over a couple of centuries really does have roots among elite white European men,” explains Mary Louise Adams, a professor of kinesiology at Queen’s University and author of Artistic Impressions: Figure Skating, Masculinity, and the Limits of Sport. Evolving in the UK as a popular amusement for the aristocracy in the late 18th century, skating clubs typically excluded women, Jews, people of color, and low-income people. “The aesthetics of the sport itself developed in line with that,” Adams says.

The thing about academia is you can always find a professor to say exactly what you need her to say, regardless of how stupid it is.

It’s not worth the click, but you would not believe how long this piece is. Our guess is that not one person reads the whole thing, but the crux seems to be this:

The days of American dominance on international podiums are gone. They won’t reverse course unless the US government or US Figure Skating decides that they suddenly want to provide massive subsidies for young skaters to train as frequently and intensely as they do abroad.

We’d wager ice skating subsidies are somewhere in the COVID relief bill already.